A Moving Plea to Shut Down Obama’s Family Detention Centers

Apr 28, 2016
1:22 PM


An original version of this post appeared on Facebook and at Matthew Kolken’s blog.

So imagine this: A mother and her two-year-old son, or a mother and her 17-year-old son, or a mother and her five-year-old daughter who has been sick for months with untreated diarrhea and vomiting, or a mother and her son who just turned 12 today. Can you picture it? Now imagine that all of these mothers and children are sitting on death row.

They have committed no crime.

They have appealed their cases time and time again in order to get a fair hearing because the first hearing was rigged against them. While they wait, their children are getting sick. They are all becoming hopeless. Over and over their appeals are denied with no explanation.

The government not only denies their appeals but actively makes death row more and more miserable. Every 15 minutes at night, flashlights are shined in their eyes so they can’t sleep, guards bang on the doors at 6:30am and they’re ordered to get up whether they’ve rested or not, the food is inedible and their children are sick. When they complain about their children being sick, they are told they are lying.

The objective is to make these mothers so desperate that they will just give in and accept the injection, the electric chair, the firing squad. Better to just get on with it than to wait months and months wondering if you and your two-year-old will end up being executed anyway.

Now that you’ve imagined it, are you horrified? Do you find it difficult to believe?

This is exactly what is happening to families in immigration detention. It’s not Donald Trump who’s in charge of this macabre scenario, it is President Obama.

If you are local, it is your county commissioners who are keeping this nightmare real. Now take the time to call your acting president and ask why he is keeping two-year-olds on death row.

Ask why desperate mothers and children are given jail sentences instead of shelter. Ask him how he can look himself in the mirror. Then call the Berks County Commissioners and ask them how they sleep at night. Ask them why they say the mothers are lying when all they want is medical treatment for their children. Ask them why it’s so important to them to keep jailing children when they supposedly do not profit from it. Make those calls for Gary. And for Briany. And for Steven. And for Alex. And for Yeslin and Cleydi. And for Anderson and Allison and Victor and Diego and all the other children.

Don’t stop calling until we‪ #‎shutdownberks‬ and ‪#‎endfamilydetention‬.

For more about Berks, go here.


Carol Anne Donohoe is an immigration attorney with a private practice in Reading, PA. For nearly the past two years she has represented and advocated for detained mothers, fathers, and children in the Berks Family detention center, largely pro bono. She is a graduate of Temple Beasley School of Law and the President of the Greater Reading Immigration Project (GRIP.)